Lessons about Dutch colonisation should be mandatory, committee finds

Do you know what VOC stands for? Neither do many Dutch people, concludes a committee commissioned by the government — even though it’s an integral part of Dutch colonial history.

The committee’s advice to the government? History lessons in schools must absolutely pay more attention to the history of Dutch colonialism, especially the former Dutch East Indies.

READ MORE | What was the VOC? The Dutch East India Company explained

History lessons

As RTL Nieuws reports, Dutch schools today are not technically required to teach about their country’s colonial past in Indonesia. As a result, how much is taught about this part of history greatly varies from school to school. 

Shockingly, some schools pay (almost) no attention to it at all, the committee found. Why? Simply because “it’s not final exam material,” says history teacher Tim Koetsier, who consciously chooses to dedicate extra class time to the subject.

READ MORE | The life of the slaves in the Dutch colonies

“There are students who leave high school without any knowledge about this important piece of history. We shouldn’t want that,” he says.

Students in favour

Now, we know what you’re thinking: “kids nowadays don’t care for history anyways” — but the opposite is true. 

READ MORE | Dutch King Willem-Alexander apologizes for use of excessive violence in Indonesia

Tim Koetsier’s students appreciate the extra attention given to the history of Dutch colonialism: “I find it very interesting because it’s about something that many people in our country have had to deal with,” a student tells RTL Nieuws.

A classmate adds: “We have to learn a lot about French history and China before our exam; but the Dutch East Indies is not mandatory material. Crazy, right?” Right.

So, government?

The special committee that investigated this cause, led by former Minister Jet Bussemaker, was commissioned by the Ministry of Health, to find out how knowledge about the Dutch colonial past can be increased.

Their conclusion: lessons about Dutch colonisation should be mandatory in all schools.

The government will discuss the committee’s findings and respond later today.

What do you think about these findings? Tell us in the comments.    

Feature Image:Freepik
Lyna Meyrer 🇱🇺
Lyna Meyrer 🇱🇺
Say 'hoi' to Lyna, our Senior Writer at DutchReview! Fueled by a love for writing, social media, and all things Dutch, she joined the DR family in 2022. Since making the Netherlands her home in 2018, she has collected a BA in English Literature & Society (Hons.) and an RMA in Arts, Literature and Media (Hons.). Even though she grew up just a few hours away from the Netherlands, Lyna remains captivated by the guttural language, quirky culture, and questionable foods that make the Netherlands so wonderfully Dutch.

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